The Centenary successfully embraced the entire Rhodes community: students, academics, administrators and support staff, Old Rhodians, local and international donors, the University's suppliers and the greater Grahamstown and Eastern Cape communities of which we form an integral part.
My sincere thanks to everyone who helped make Centenary 2004 such a resounding success. It has brought us closer together and reinforced a sense of pride in an institution that over the past 100 years has emerged as one of Africa's finest universities. There were many high points during 2004. Miriam Makeba's opening concert on the Great Field the day after she received an honorary doctorate was a memorable start to the celebrations. So was the spectacular fireworks display which was visible throughout Grahamstown. Honorary doctorates were also conferred on Nosimo Balindlela, Dikela Ndwebisa, Alice Krige, Professors Charles van Onselen, John de Gruchy and Deryck Schreuder, Mr Justice Lex Mpathi, Brian Gilbertson, Hugh Herman, and the Nobel Laureate for Economics, Professor Amartya Sen, who presented two exceptional seminars for staff and students during his visit. His intellect is astounding.
Three gala Centenary balls were held in July and one was held over the September Founders' Weekend and were enjoyed by all. Macmillan published an unofficial history of the first 100 years at Rhodes. Centenary lectures were given throughout the year and in the Rhodes tradition of self-appraisal and open debate, a critical colloquium was held where alumni returned to the University to reflect critically on their experiences at Rhodes. What emerged strongly from this exercise was that despite perceived shortcomings in the past, all participants acknowledged the high quality of a Rhodes education and the commitment and quality of our academic staff.
On the fundraising front, the Centenary Capital Campaign, which set itself an ambitious target of R100 million, has raised an amount generously above that target. My sincere thanks to everyone who was involved in this effort and to the donor community for their generous and ongoing support. I believe the Campaign result speaks volumes about the high esteem in which donors hold Rhodes, and it is gratifying to know that, although Rhodes is by far the smallest University in South Africa, it can draw such remarkable support from Old Rhodians and the donor community.
It was also gratifying to see how students supported the Campaign. Under the leadership of the 2003 SRC President, James Chipunza, a ‘Give 5 Campaign' was launched whereby students committed themselves to a R5 donation that will double up each year over the next 10 years. This was a first for a South African university. The ‘Give 5 Campaign' raised almost R12 000 for the Centre for Social Development in its first year and promises to become an important development in the years to come.
A UK Appeal was launched at a formal dinner at the Savoy Hotel in London in September. This was underwritten and hosted by UK Trustees, Mike Chapman and Geoff de Jager and drew 120 leading UK donors, alumni and friends of the University, including the Minister of Finance, Trevor Manuel. The Appeal will create an endowment to support critical academic needs at Rhodes, including scholarships and bursaries for needy students. UK Trustees pledged R1,2 million and the Nelson Mandela Foundation made a lead gift of R1,5 million to the Appeal, which aims to raise R12 million in the initial stages.
As part of the UK Appeal, Rhodes has been granted an annual Mandela-Rhodes Foundation Scholarship for a Rhodes student to study at Magdalene College, Cambridge. Only two similar scholarships are available to the rest of South Africa.
Rhodes received R6 million from the Government as compensation for the incorporation of our East London campus into the University of Fort Hare on January 1, 2004. The University emerges from the reorganisation of tertiary education as a fully-fledged research University offering Masters and Doctoral degrees in all areas.
The reorganisation process gives Rhodes a unique opportunity to build on its strengths. Already we have the highest undergraduate pass rate and the highest per capita research outputs in the country.
To maintain our advantage, the University is proceeding with a building programme that will see new lecture facilities being built and the consolidation of Journalism and Media Studies in a refurbished building. Thanks to generous donations from two major donors, a new building will also go up to house the Communications and Development Division. This will be the contact point for Old Rhodians, donors and other VIP visitors and will house Rhodes Music Radio.
Rhodes will maintain its policy of controlled growth. At present the student population is 6 144 and it is unlikely to increase beyond 6 500 in the years to come. This means Rhodes can maintain its favourable student-to-staff ratio – at 14:1 it is the best in the country – and develop its unique niche as a safe residential and collegiate university in a rural setting offering students and staff a quality lifestyle outside the University.
Rhodes will thus remain a small, 24-hour and high-quality university though its shape will change as we move towards a 30% postgraduate population. This will make Rhodes similar to Princeton in the United States which has 6 500 students with a 38% postgraduate population. We will cap our foreign student intake at a maximum of 25% and through the offices of the newly appointed Dean of Internationalisation, Professor Marius Vermaak, we will be pursuing global opportunities for student and staff exchanges, quality visiting lecturers, examining curriculum issues and collaborative research projects.
A key objective is to increase our Eastern Cape black student intake. This is a challenge because of the shortage of qualified school-leavers in the province, but the University has established a full support infrastructure that includes foundation courses and peer mentoring to accommodate disadvantaged students with ability. This year comprehensive alternate admissions examinations were held in Port Elizabeth, East London, Umtata and Grahamstown and 30 students from disadvantaged backgrounds were identified with potential to succeed at university.
The new state funding formula will initially see a decrease in undergraduate subsidy support at Rhodes but it will increase postgraduate subsidies.We anticipate a shortfall in undergraduate student support funding in the short term and hope to meet these needs through donated bursaries and scholarships. Rhodes emerges from its Centenary year stronger than ever before in its 100-year history. We are poised for qualitative growth and we look forward to the future with boundless optimism.
Dr David Woods,